Apr. 22, 2023 03:53 PM
The first-class relic of St. Therese of the Child Jesus for an overnight visitation from April 16-17 as part of its 5th visit to the Philippines (Photo by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
The Quiapo Church community, through the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, welcomed the pilgrim relic of St. Therese of the Child Jesus as part of its 5th visit to the Philippines. The relic arrived at 6:30 p.m. for an overnight public vigil and veneration until 7:00 a.m. of April 17, Sunday.
The Welcome Rites and Solemn Mass was concelebrated by Rev. Fr. Rufino C. Sescon Jr., Rector and Parish Priest together with his Parochial Vicars: Rev. Fr. Jonathan Noel Mojica, Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang and Rev. Fr. Robert Arellano, LRMS and other nine (9) guest priests. Around 1000 devotees and parishioners participated in the welcoming ceremony and mass for the holy relic.
Devotees and parishioners awaiting the arrival of the first-class relic with Rev. Fr. Rufino C. Sescon Jr. leading the Welcoming Rites (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
According to Rev. Fr. Sescon, the glorious Christ can never be separated from the wounded Christ. Whenever we see the wounds radiating from Jesus’ face, He wants to show us the path to glory through His wounds. Emphasizing this, Fr. Sescon said that we need to be wounded, too, in the name of love, truth, and kindness to unite us with Jesus of Nazarene. He advises:
“Huwag kayong matakot masugatan sa ngalan ng kabutihan. Huwag kayong matakot masugatan dahil nagsasabi kayo ng totoo. Huwag kayo matakot masugatan dahil nagpapatawad kayo o humihingi kayo ng tawad. Huwag kayo matakot masugatan dahil naglilingkod kayo at pinanghahawakan niyo na lang higit sa lahat ang pananalig sa Diyos sapagkat ang sugatang Hesus ang maluwalhating Hesus.”
(Do not be afraid to be wounded in the name of virtue. Do not be afraid of being suppressed because you are telling the truth. Do not be afraid of getting hurt because you forgive or ask for forgiveness. Don’t be afraid of being wounded because you are serving, and you just hold on to faith in God above all else because the wounded Jesus is the glorious Jesus)
Rev. Fr. Sescon Jr. delivering his homily to the people (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
He adds that just like St. Therese of the Child Jesus, she had also suffered wounds in her life – from losing both of her parents to being separated from her sister, who had entered the convent, until St. Therese’s entry after being refused admission earlier on. However, she realized those painful events would have only drawn her closer to the Lord Jesus. On this eve of the Feast of the Divine Mercy, Jesus as King of Divine Mercy, Fr. Sescon articulated its significance to the faithful:
“…dahil pag tayo’y dumudulog sa Diyos, inaalay din natin sa kanya ang mga sugat natin. Humihingi tayo din ng tawad sa mga pagkakataong sinugatan natin siya. Na katulad ni Tomas, nag-aalinlangan din tayo sa kanya. Na katulad ng mga alagad, tumalikod din tayo at nakalimot sa kanya. Opo, mga kapatid, sinusugatan din natin si Hesus lalo na sa ating mga kasalanan. Pero, mga kapatid, huwag tayong mag-aalala sapagkat bagamat sinusugatan natin siya, hindi siya nagsasawang umabot sa atin. Sapagkat alam ni Hesus babalik at babalik tayo sa kanya. Ang mga sugat ay maari ding bukal ng biyaya.”
(…because when we approach God, we also offer to Him our wounds. We also apologize for the times we have hurt him. Like Thomas, we also doubt him. Like the disciples, we also turned away and forget about him. Yes, brothers and sisters, we also wounded Jesus especially through our sins. But, brother and sisters, let’s not worry because although we wounded him, he never gets tired of reaching to us. Because Jesus knows we will return, and we will return to him. His wounds can also be a source of grace.)
Recital of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Our Father’ (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
In the conclusion part of his sermon, through this divine quote of St. Therese: “Everything Is Grace because everything is God’s gift“, Rev. Fr. Sescon explained that a heart so full of love will always see the blessings by God. As a completing message, he encourages us never to give up and lose hope because the path to eternity will be taken through our Lord’s wounds. Moreover, he left two prayers the faithful can recite this eve and on the Feast Day of the Divine Mercy: (1) ‘My Lord & My God‘ by St. Thomas, the Apostle, and the (2) ‘Jesus, I trust in You” taught by Jesus to Sr. Faustina, who showed to her His wounds, the source, where blessings and grace flow from.
Overnight public veneration (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
After the mass, the long queue began among people and devotees, especially followers/believers of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Throughout the public vigil and veneration activity, the Parish Youth Ministry (PYM) presented a one-hour mini-concert dedicated to St. Therese’s special union with God as a patroness of missionaries and prayer of chaplet of St. Therese, also known as Little Flower Rosary, honoring her twenty-four years of existence on earth.
Priests and nuns venerating the relic (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
Following this is a catechesis on the biography of St. Therese by Rev. Fr. Raymond Tapia, T’O. Carm, MOP. In his talk, he featured how St. Therese had started her journey to be with God at 15 years old when she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, France. During the discussion, he emphasized the 3 M’s that we can apply. The first ‘M’ is ‘Manalig’ (Faith). In his words:
Attentive and participating devotees and parishioners (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
“Ito ang unang itinuturo ni Santa Teresita ng Batang si Hesus ang manalig sa Diyos. Sapagkat sa buhay espiritwal ni Santa Teresita ng Batang Hesus, tinuturuan niya tayong maging bata sa harapan ng Diyos na sinasabi ni Santa Teresita ng Batang si Hesus dapat tayo parang isang bata na nakakarga sa kamay ng ating ama. At itong mag matutunan sa kanya. Bakit? Sapagkat sa kanyang buhay sa loob ng monasteryo ay nilagay niya ang kanyang tiwala. Nilagay niya ang kanyang pananalig sa kamay ni Hesus. Nilagay niya ang kanyang sarili sa kamay ng Diyos at tayo tinuturuan ni Santa Teresita ng Batang si Hesus na manalig tayo sa Diyos. No matter what happen na kahit anong mangyari tayo ay magtitiwala sa Diyos.”
(This is what Saint Therese of the Child Jesus first taught us to trust in God. Because in the spiritual life of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, she teaches us to be children in the presence of God that Saint Therese of the Child Jesus says we should be like a child carried in the hands of our Father. And learn from him. Why? In her life within the monastery, she placed her trust. She put her trust in the hands of Jesus. She put herself in the hands of God, and Saint Therese of the Child Jesus teaches us to trust in God. No matter what happens, we will trust God)
This was manifested as she had learned about the death of her father, (St.) While she was already inside the convent, Louis Martin was the subject of unwanted opinions from her superior nuns as the youngest to be admitted, especially during her father’s suffering from mental sickness until she acquired incurable tuberculosis. In her weakening condition, she had written her autobiography entitled ‘Story of A Soul” as instructed by her superior before her death.
The second ‘M’ is ‘Manalangin’ (Pray). In this second word, Rev. Fr. Tapia challenges us how deep our prayers and faith are especially when participating in overnight public veneration to St. Therese with the offering of roses and touching of the glass case as our means of connecting with God:
Great number of people lining up to touch the image (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
“Kaya si St. Therese may dalawang debosyon. Kaya nga ang religious name niya bilang madre, St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face. Bakit siya Hesus? Makikita natin at di lamang debosyon ni Santa Teresita sa Sto. Nino kundi pinakikita nito ang kanyang pagiging bata, ang kanyang pagiging simple, ang kanyang pagiging masunurin sa Diyos. Kaya may Sto Nino. Bakit Holy Face of the Jesus? Makikita natin dito si Santa Teresita ay may debosyon rin sa mga hirap ng Panginoon. Ito kanyang napansin nung nagkasakit ang kanyang ama. Nung siya ay bata pa, siya ay may vision ng nangyari sa tatay niya at nung tumanda ang kanayng tatay, ayun nagkaroon problema sa pagiisip kanyang ama at dun niya napagtanto nung na yung paghihirap ng kanyang ama ay katulad sa mukha ng Panginoon. Itinuturo sa atin ni Santa Teresita ng Batang si Hesus na ang banal na mukha ng Panginoong Hesus na naghihirap ay magpapaalala sa akin – sa atin lahat ngayon na hindi lang hirap natin huwag tayo bibtaw sa kanya. Sapagkat di mapaghihiwalay ang hirap at tagumpay.”
(St. Therese had two devotions. That’s why she took the religious name as a nun, St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face. Why is it, Jesus? We will see not only St. Therese’s devotion to Sto. Nino, but it shows her childhood, her simplicity, and her obedience to God. So there is Sto Nino. Why the Holy Face of Jesus? We can see here that St. Therese also has a devotion to the sufferings Lord. She noticed this when her father got sick. When she was young, she had a vision of what happened to her father; when her father got old, her father eventually had a mental challenge. That’s when she realized that her father’s suffering was like the face of the Lord. St. Therese of the Child Jesus teaches us that the Holy Face of the Lord Jesus’ suffering will remind me – all of us today that it is not just our suffering that we should not give up on him. Because sufferings and triumphs are interconnected.)
Just like St. Therese, who had suffered from her illness, she still emerged victorious because of her immense faith and prayers to the Lord until the end. That is why her final words were: “My God, I love you.” Indeed, St. Therese had led a life – a spiritual journey so ardent until her death.
The third “M’ is ‘Magmisyon’ (Mission). According to Rev. Fr. Tapia, St. Therese dreamed of becoming a missionary. However, as a nun, she was not permitted to go outside the monastery. However, there could have been a chance when an opportunity was presented wherein a search for foundresses from Lisieux, France, for a future Carmelite monastery to be opened in Vietnam. During that time, she already got the illness of tuberculosis. Hence, she was not chosen:
Quiapo Church clergy and other priest concelebrants venerate the first-class relic of St. Therese of the Child Jesus (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
“Madaming paghihirap misyonero’t misyonera kaya nga tayong inaatasan ipanalangin katulad ni Santa Teresita, subalit tayong naririto ngayon, tayo din mga misyonero’t misyonera. Tayo ay inaanyayahan ipangaral si Kristo. Di lang sa pamamagitan ng salita, kundi lalo higit sa ating mga halimbawa nagdedebosyon sa Poong Mahal na Hesus Nazareno. Kada Biyernes, pumupunta yung iba nakaluhod subalit sa ating mga panalangin, tayo din ay maging Hesus Nazareno sa ibang mga katulad ng halimbawa ni Santa Teresita ng Batang Hesus. Hindi man siya nakalabas monastery, subalit panalangin nya yung pagiging mabuting halimbawa sa loob ng monastery. Yung ang naging dahilan kung bakit siya naging patrona ng mga msiyon.”
(At present, missionaries face a lot of challenges and persecution. That’s why we are asked to pray like St. Therese, and we are here today; we also become missionaries. We are invited to preach Christ. Not only through words but especially through our examples of devotion to the Lord Jesus Nazarene. Every Friday, others come kneeling but in our prayers, we too become Jesus Nazarene to others like the example of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She might not be able to leave the monastery, but her prayer serves as a good example inside the monastery. That is the reason why she became the patron saint of missions)
To be a missionary is to see the face of Jesus Christ in every person we encounter, just as St. Therese explained to her fellow nun, who was older and ill-tempered when asked why she kept smiling at her despite her treatment. For Rev. Fr. Tapia, that is the kind of mission St. Therese would like to impart through her visitation to us as we face more challenges.
After the catechesis, the public vigil and veneration continued as more people, including the ministries and organizations of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. It continued from midnight up to 5:00 a.m. of April 16, 2023, Sunday, Feast of the Divine Mercy. Then, it was followed by the Farewell Liturgy Rites & Mass presided by Rev. Fr. Jonathan Mojica, Parochial Vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, at 6:00 a.m. with approximately 3,050 people. During his homily, Rev. Fr. Mojica shared his takeaway of what we can emulate about St. Therese’s relationship with God:
Rev. Fr. Jonathan Noel Mojica, Parochial Vicar, leading the Farewell rites for the relic (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
“Si Santa Teresita ay pinapaalalahanan tayo – tayo pinapaalala tayo ng kanyang tinatawag na ’Little Way’ na pwede niyang baon sa atin. Do simple things with extraordinary love. Kaya nga sa bawat bagay na gagawin natin sa simpleng pagluluto, sa simpleng paglilinis. Kaya kung gagawin natin ito na may matinding pagmamahal, lumalago tayo sa awa ng Diyos. Lumalago tayo sa buhay kabanalan. Doon lahat ay gagawin natin na may matinding pag-ibig kahit gaano man kasimple ito. Para sa tingin natin simple, pero sa mata ng Diyos kung ginagawa natin mga bagay na ito na may matinding pagmamahal, ito ay napakalaking gawain.”
(St. Therese reminds us – she reminds us of her so-called ‘Little Way’ that we can bring with us. Do simple things with extraordinary love. That’s why everything we do like simple cooking, simple cleaning. So if we do this with great love, we grow in God’s mercy. We grow in the life of holiness. There, we will do everything with great love no matter how simple it is. For us, it seems simple, but in the eyes of God, if we do these things with great love, it is great work).
St. Therese of the Child Jesus image at the altar adorned with roses (Photos by Social Communications Ministry (SOCCOMM), Quiapo Church)
According to the official website of the Society of the Little Flower, St. Therese of the Child Jesus was born on January 2, 1873. Upon entering the Carmelite convent at the age of 15 on April 9, 1888, she spent nine years inside until her death due to tuberculosis at the age of 24 on September 30, 1887. Her autobiography “Story of A Soul” was published a year after on September 30, 1898. Eventually, she was canonized as a saint on May 17, 1925, and declared Doctor of the Church on October 19, 1997, by Pope John Paul II. Her feast day is celebrated every October 1.
– Kidanzac A. Tallada | EIAM & ADRM